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Senators to propose lawsuit against Zeman unless he sacks Babiš

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Prague, May 9 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman’s critics in the Senate will propose to discuss filing a constitutional lawsuit against the president next Tuesday unless he sacks Andrej Babis as finance minister within a week, Senate chairman Milan Stech (Social Democrats, CSSD) told reporters yesterday.

If Zeman failed to comply with the prime minister’s proposal and did not dismiss Babis within ten to 14 days, the filing of the lawsuit would be justified, Stech said after a meeting of the Senate’s organisational committee.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek reacted calling his words unacceptable threats addressed to the president.

Zeman previously said he wants to decide on Babis’s future in the cabinet after his return from China scheduled for May 18.

“Addressing threats to the president is unacceptable in democratic society,” Ovcacek said.

A group of 27 senators threatened to sue Zeman over a gross breach of the constitution on Friday, when speculations emerged on whether Zeman will comply with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s (CSSD) request and sack Babis.

Senate deputy chairwoman Miluse Horska, from the Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) group, told CTK today that the number of Zeman’s critics in the upper house has increased to 34 since.

The draft constitutional lawsuit might be completed in several days, Horska said.

Stech said a Senate session would be convoked to discuss the draft lawsuit, if the organisational committee found it justified for the Senate to sue Zeman.

To be approved by the upper house, a draft lawsuit against the president needs support from at least three fifths of the senators present, which is 49 if all 81 senators attend the session.

Afterwards, the step would also need approval from at least three fifths (120) of the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament.

Based on the Czech Constitution, the president is not accountable for his performance in the post. He can be neither detained nor prosecuted for a criminal offence or another delict. However, the constitution’s Article 65 enables to prosecute the president for treason and for a gross violation of the constitution or another part of the constitutional order. If so, a constitutional lawsuit is filed against the president by the Senate, the upper house of parliament, which lodges it with the Constitutional Court (US).

If the US finds the president guilty, he loses his office without a chance of regaining it. The president has the right to ask the US to reopen the proceedings against him, but only if the previous verdict was influenced by someone’s unlawful action or if the president highlights new circumstances or submits new pieces of evidence.

The Czech Senate filed a constitutional complaint against the president once in the past. It aimed against President Vaclav Klaus and the senators filed it mainly over the controversial vast amnesty Klaus declared at the close of his second and last presidential term in early 2013. The US, however, did not decide on the lawsuit. It halted the proceedings, arguing that Klaus’s mandate expired in the meantime.


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